The number of property hunters enquiring about new homes through Rightmove doubled overnight as the government lifted restrictions on viewings and moving house.
Phone and email enquiries to agents made through the property website on Wednesday were only 10% lower than the same date in 2019.
Total visits to the site reached almost 5.2m, up 4% on the same day last year.
There was also a surge in rental demand as the number of enquiries reached the highest level since September 2019.
However, the property portal says it will not resume publishing asking price data until there is a recovery in the number of listings.
It reports that the number of new properties coming to market remains 90% lower than a year ago, although there was a week-on-week increase of 111%.
Rightmove director and housing market analyst Miles Shipside says: “The traditionally busy spring market was curtailed by lockdown, but we’re now seeing clear signs of returning momentum, with the existing desire to move now being supplemented by some people’s unhappiness with their lockdown home and surroundings.
“Some may be unable or unwilling to move now, but those who are ready to take the plunge have jumped immediately into action.”
Shipside says that despite the positive data, it is likely to take months rather than weeks for momentum to build.
He adds: “With no new seller asking price data it’s too early to comment on price movements, though high demand is needed to support a stable market.
“If there are attractive lower deposit mortgages available it would help sustain the recovery in activity.
“The industry has been caught by surprise, as we were all expecting the housing market to stay closed until at least June.”
MT Finance director Tomer Aboody says: “Pent-up demand from buyers to move was stalled by lockdown, but never went away.
“Further stimulus from the government in the form of a possible stamp duty holiday, and assistance from banks who will hopefully be more innovative and flexible on mortgages, will allow buyers to move and be proactive, while also being comfortable to borrow.